UPCOMING EVENT: Costa FLW Series - 2019 - St. Lawrence River

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

A Look at Lake Toho

A Look at Lake Toho

Stop No. 2 of the 2019 FLW Tour takes us to Lake Toho and the several other lakes strung along the Kissimmee River. Presented by Ranger Boats, the tournament will take off from Big Toho Marina on the north end of the namesake lake, but competitors will be able to spread out down the Kissimmee River into Cypress Lake, Lake Hatchineha (Hatch), Lake Kissimmee, and perhaps even Tiger Lake and Lake Rosalie if they’re feeling adventurous.

 

All the main lakes on the chain are connected by the Kissimmee River, which has been developed into what is essentially a string of canals running lake-to-lake. The two primary lakes are Toho and Kissimmee, and there’s about a 14 1/2-mile run between them composed of some brief sections of Cypress and Hatchineha and plenty of canal. The lock at the south end of Toho serves as the gateway to the rest of the chain. Current running through the river is one of the defining features of the chain and, to an extent, sets it apart from the typical Florida lake.

 

Lake Toho will probably see the most fishing pressure this week, but it’s not a guarantee to produce the win. Flipping through the pages of bass fishing history reveals that Toho and Kissimmee have accounted for about an equal share of wins, with almost nobody relying primarily on one of the other lakes in the chain.

Toho is the most developed lake on the chain, and it has more docks and canals than the others, but otherwise it’s fairly similar to the rest of the crew. It does, however, have the clearest water, so it’s probably the best for actual sight-fishing. Though, catching spawning bass that aren’t visible certainly has a lot of history in Florida that shouldn’t be discounted.

 

Back in January 2001, Dean Rojas set the all-time five-bass limit record for B.A.S.S. at the mouth of Shingle Creek on Lake Toho. He rolled in on day one of the tournament and landed on a pile of huge spawning bass. By the end of the day, he’d landed five for a total of 45 pounds, 2 ounces. Rojas went on to win the tournament with a total of 20 bass for 108-12.

Someone weighing 45 pounds would be a surprise this week. But, with the balmy weather and a stacked field, some truly gigantic catches might just happen.

 

There’s about a 3-foot difference in water level between Toho and the downstream lakes.  A spillway lets the water leave Toho, and the lock alongside it is the only way boats can get out. The lock can fit about 15 boats in it per cycle, and depending on how much traffic there is and how good an angler’s timing is, getting through can take just a few minutes or more than 20 minutes. For travel time to Kissimmee and back to weigh-in, it’s an essential concern.

 

Hatchineha and Cypress are the two smaller lakes that are truly on the Kissimmee River, and they will produce some bass, but they’re more likely to be driven through by many anglers en route to Kissimmee. In years past, the canals and associated shell bars and current places between the lock and the mouth into Kissimmee have produced quite a few fish, most notably in the 2015 FLW Tour event, when Stetson Blaylock, Troy Morrow, Wesley Strader, Randy Blaukat and others all made hay in the current.

 

Attached by a small, winding creek to Lake Kissimmee, Tiger Lake could certainly produce some fish this week. It’s basically a bowl of Kissimmee grass and docks. Lake Rosalie is connected to Tiger by another creek, but it’s probably not going to be accessible to bass boats, though you wouldn’t want to bet against John Cox.

 

At around 30,000 acres, Lake Kissimmee is the largest on the chain, and would almost surely get the most attention if the lock wasn’t in the way. Even so, it’s got a rich history of giving up big bass. Kissimmee has all the usual pieces of Florida cover, from hydrilla to Kissimmee grass, pads and mats.

 

Two of the most popular sections of Kissimmee are North Cove (pictured) and Jack’s Slough. North Cove is protected by Sturm Island and has some of the best water clarity and lushest grass in the lake. Jack’s Slough is characterized by acres of pad fields and is where Luke Clausen won the Bassmaster Classic in 2006, and where Stacey King spent much of his time in 2015 when he finished fourth in the Tour event. Of course, all of the lake is really in play, as the entirety of it is rimmed with gorgeous-looking Florida cover.

 

Fishing hydrilla has always been a player on the Kissimmee Chain, but this year it might be more important than ever. The south end of Toho is simply loaded with it, similar to some of the lakes on the Harris Chain, where offshore fishing was the dominant tactic last year. There is definitely a lot of potential for a true shallow Florida slugfest to break out this week, but the fact that the offshore grass looks so juicy could liven things up a lot. At the very least, it might be a productive stop on the way to and from Kissimmee.

 

Any tournament on the Kissimmee Chain will feature near-constant references to pads. There are plenty of “flat pads” in the lakes, but the main thing to account for is spatterdock (Nuphar advena). Spatterdock has a very developed root system the bass will often clear off and spawn on, and the stems of the pads are extremely tough. Flipping a jig in the pads or dragging a worm across the root systems is a time-honored method for extracting bass.

 

Kissimmee grass is an emergent grass that really looks like it belongs out of the water. It’s present on all the lakes, and can be extremely productive. A swim jig is one of the preferred methods for catching fish in and around Kissimmee grass.

 

Of course, flipping is always going to play in Florida, and there is plenty of cover for it. From hyacinth, reeds and water lettuce mats to cattails and buggy whips, there is all kinds of stuff to flip. Cold fronts often bring flipping to the forefront, but that doesn’t mean it should be discounted as a technique when the bite is good. Big Florida bass like heavy cover no matter what. 

 

If you’re an FLW Tour pro who loves grass fishing, this could be the week for you on Toho and the rest of the Kissimmee Chain. With warming water and a great population of bass, the fishery should provide a real show from central Florida.

Tags: jody-white  pre-tournament  2019-02-07-lake-toho 

Big Smallmouths, Big Water for Season Finale

Big Smallmouths, Big Water for Season Finale

Any tournament with smallmouths in it is a good one, but when the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits heads to the St. Lawrence River it's usually a show-stopper. This year’s event, which is presented by Realtree Fishing, shouldn’t be any different as the Northern Division looks to close its season out on one of the best smallmouth fisheries in the world September 19-21. READ MORE »

Bryan Schmitt’s ChatterBait Box

Bryan Schmitt’s ChatterBait Box

“I’m pretty wild on color selection,” says Schmitt. “I always have my shad colors. I always have my black and blues. But I fall in love with trying to find a niche color. Especially when you get into the fall of the year on the Potomac. I love to find a crayfish pattern, and I feel like then a crayfish-imitating ChatterBait out-fishes anything else. And I also like to find a bluegill pattern at times, so I play with the colors.” READ MORE »

Review: STIX Fishing Rods

Review: STIX Fishing Rods

STIX Fishing is a relatively new company started by FLW Live host Travis Moran and Nick Smith that sells fishing rods with a bit of a unique plan. Instead of picking and choosing a rod or two at a time, STIX wants to sell you six rods at a time (the STIX PAX) for $500, which comes out to about $83 per rod. According to the company, the STIX PAX is a complete set of bass rods and will do everything you need rods to do. READ MORE »

Bryan Schmitt’s Potomac Review

Bryan Schmitt’s Potomac Review

On the Potomac, hands down, I want to fish grass. The grass holds the numbers. But if you look at the event this week on the Potomac, the tournament was won on structure. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from the Potomac River

Top 10 Patterns from the Potomac River

The Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits event on the Potomac River was not the slugfest the season opener on Champlain was or the season finale on the St. Lawrence River is almost sure to be. As has been the case in many of the FLW events on the Potomac this year, the fishing was pretty stingy, and hard cover played an outsized role. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from the Potomac River

Top 10 Baits from the Potomac River

Late summer on the Potomac is often tough fishing, so the contenders in the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits event had to pull out all the stops. Fishing everything from grass to docks and rocks, the anglers mixed up all sorts of power and finesse presentations to get the job done in the second stop of the season presented by Lowrance. READ MORE »

Short Tops co-anglers

Short Tops co-anglers

Weighing a limit on day one and two bags of just four fish each over the next two days was enough to earn Jim Short the co-angler title in the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits on the Potomac River. Weighing 9 pounds, 15 ounces on the final day for a total of 29-9, Short took home a new Ranger Z175 and $5,350 in cash. READ MORE »

Reese Goes Wire-To-Wire

Reese Goes Wire-To-Wire

The final weigh-in of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits event on the Potomac was one of the most intense of the season. In the end, with just enough to hold on, Marvin Reese weighed four for 8 pounds, 5 ounces to earn the win with a 38-15 total. For his win, which was his first on the boater side, Reese earned $38,026. Finishing second, Troy Morrow rocked up from tenth with 14-7, which was the biggest bag of the day. READ MORE »

Potomac River Midday Update – Day 3

Potomac River Midday Update – Day 3

The final day of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits event on the Potomac has offered chamber of commerce weather and some up and down fishing. The event, which is presented by Lowrance, has featured pretty tough fishing overall, and it seems like some of the top 10 may fall victim to it today. READ MORE »

Potomac River Top 5 Patterns – Day 2

Potomac River Top 5 Patterns – Day 2

Through two days of competition on the Potomac in the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits event the weights haven’t been nearly what the river is capable of kicking out. That said, all the top pros have managed to put at least one good day together, and some have maintained really strong consistency, just at a lesser pace than would be the norm in June or some other time of the year. READ MORE »

Better Day Keeps Reese Out Front

Better Day Keeps Reese Out Front

A lovely morning gave way to a dismal afternoon on day two of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits on the Potomac River, but despite the difference in conditions, Marvin Reese kept on plugging. Weighing 14 pounds, 12 ounces on day one, Reese added 15-14 on day two for a 30-10 total. With his day two bag, Reese has now weighed the two biggest bags of the event, which is presented by Lowrance, and he’s widened his lead over Justin Atkins to nearly 4 pounds. READ MORE »

Potomac River Midday Update – Day 2

Potomac River Midday Update – Day 2

Day two of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits event on the Potomac has been quite a swing from day one. However, despite dramatically different weather, some of the top pros are still catching, and it looks like a tight race is setting up for the final day. READ MORE »

Potomac River Top 5 Patterns – Day 1

Potomac River Top 5 Patterns – Day 1

As is so often the case, the first day of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits on the Potomac River wasn’t quite as bad as some predicted in practice. Though it was hot and humid as all get out, plenty of limits hit the scale and enough pros weighed 12 pounds or better to make things really interesting READ MORE »

Reese Leads on the Potomac

Reese Leads on the Potomac

Day one of the Potomac River event, which is the second stop of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits, featured plenty of limits, but getting quality bites was definitely an issue for some. In the lead after day one, Marvin Reese of Randallstown, Md., weighed 14 pounds, 12 ounces to get things underway. Behind Reese, Justin Atkins and Jason Kervin both weighed 14-5, and Robert Grike rounded out the 14-pound brigade with 14-4. Overall, just 11 pros cracked the 12-pound mark on day one of the tournament, which is presented by Lowrance, but 8- and 9-pound limits weren’t too hard to come by.  READ MORE »

Potomac River Midday Update – Day 1

Potomac River Midday Update – Day 1

As predicted, day one of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits event on the Potomac River has been fairly tough. Though most folks have a fish or two, and many will undoubtedly fill limits by weigh-in, it certainly hasn’t been a catch-fest. READ MORE »

Underway on the Potomac

Underway on the Potomac

For the tournament, the wind isn’t forecast to be too strong any day, and the tides will be fairly standard, but not ideal from a timing standpoint. Today, low tide was at 6:15 a.m., and low tide on Saturday will be at 8:15. That means that pros will mostly be fishing a rising tide through the tournament, with the best windows likely coming early on Friday and Saturday. READ MORE »

Another Potomac Rumble Looms

Another Potomac Rumble Looms

Moving south from Lake Champlain, the second stop of the 2019 Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits is on the Potomac River. The tournament, which is presented by Lowrance and runs Aug. 22-24, should offer a fairly standard set of August conditions for the anglers, with plenty of quality largemouths to go around. READ MORE »

Slow Down in Brush for More Success

Slow Down in Brush for More Success

Many times, hitting as many brush piles as possible is the key to success, with Bryan Thrift’s 2015 FLW Tour win on Lake Eufaula serving as a prime example of that strategy. However, with the fishing pretty tough on Lake Hamilton, both Wade Strelic and Joel Willert turned to more methodical approaches to generate bites. READ MORE »

Smith Honored with Sportsmanship, Community Leadership Award

Smith Honored with Sportsmanship, Community Leadership Award

Capt. Blake Smith was presented with the 2019 Forrest L. Wood Sportsmanship & Community Leadership Award by the award’s namesake, Forrest Wood, at the 2019 FLW Cup pre-tournament banquet in Hot Springs, Ark. Smith, of Lakeland, Fla., has fished the FLW Tour since 2015. READ MORE »

Day 3 of Practice with Scanlon

Day 3 of Practice with Scanlon

Casey Scanlon won the FLW Tour season finale at Lake Champlain, which he almost had to do to make the FLW Cup. Now that he’s here at Lake Hamilton, he’s got a shot at $300,000 and a possible edge over the competition due to his momentum and extensive Ozark experience. READ MORE »